"We see our name in the paper a lot, but we're kind of wondering when you're going to actually do something." -Bill Maher on Barack Obama
Bill Maher has offered some scathing criticism of Obama of late, ranting against the president's televisional ubiquity and questioning Obama's political substance on his show, in an op-ed in the LA Times, and in an interview with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.
But so far, Obama's backers largely have yet to speak up and deliver what the chattering classes might refer to as a smackdown to Maher for so harshly criticizing the president.
So why haven't liberals blasted Maher, or even balked at his criticism?
Perhaps it's because Maher represents a faction of Obama's support base--the left contingent of the Obama coalition--and he does speak for their concerns. Partly the same contingent that's been upset with him for continuing to use military tribunals--the same liberal faction that was upset with Obama the candidate for backing the 2008 overhaul of wiretapping rules that codified some new government authority and offered retroactive immunity to telecom companies who cooperated with Bush.
Perhaps it's that people who feel the same way Maher does are simply more vocal than their centrist counterparts. Perhaps it's that impassioned criticism is always louder than regular old satisfaction with the president.
Perhaps it's that Obama hasn't given his backers enough ammunition to fight against Maher's attacks: health care reform, energy reform, withdrawal from Iraq, and the closure of Guantanamo haven't happened yet. One of Obama's most notable accomplishments actually was a speech--the one he gave in Cairo--which fits Maher's narrative well.
I'm not sure why it is so. But Maher's criticism is out there, collecting its supporters.